Carolina Eyck and Clarice Jensen: Tiny Desk Concert Carolina Eyck, the first artist to bring a theremin to the Tiny Desk, plays the air with the kind of lyrical phrasing and "fingered" articulation that takes a special kind of virtuosity.

Tiny Desk

Carolina Eyck and Clarice Jensen

How do you play an instrument you never physically touch? Watch Carolina Eyck. She's the first to bring a theremin to the Tiny Desk. The early electronic instrument with the slithery sound was invented almost 100 years ago by Leon Theremin, a Soviet scientist with a penchant for espionage. It looks like a simple black metal box with a couple of protruding antennae, but to play the theremin like Eyck does, with her lyrical phrasing and precisely "fingered" articulation, takes a special kind of virtuosity.

"I'm really playing air," she tells the Tiny Desk audience. "I don't touch anything while I play." The position of the hands influences electromagnetic fields to produce pitch and volume. Recognized as one of today's preeminent theremin specialists, Eyck writes her own compositions, such as the pulsating "Delphic" which opens the set, and she's got big shot composers writing theremin concertos for her.

Joining Eyck for this two-musician-in-one Tiny Desk is cellist Clarice Jensen. When she's not making gorgeous, drone-infused albums like last year's For This From That Will be Filled, Jensen directs one of today's leading new music outfits, ACME, the American Contemporary Music Ensemble. "Three Leos," composed by Jensen, offers her masterful art of looping the cello into symphonic layers of swirling, submerged choirs with a wistful tune soaring above.

The two musicians close with "Frequencies," a piece jointly composed specifically for this Tiny Desk performance. Amid roiling figures in cello and melodies hovering in the theremin, listen closely for a wink at the NPR Morning Edition theme music.

Set List

  • "Delphic"
  • "Three Leos"
  • "Frequencies"

Credits

Producers: Tom Huizenga, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kaylee Domzalski; Production Assistant: Brie Martin; Photo: Cameron Pollack/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Buddy performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 4, 2018 (Cameron Pollack/NPR). Cameron Pollack/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cameron Pollack/NPR

Buddy

The preacher's son from Compton brought his flair for the dramatic, and an air of rebellion, to the Tiny Desk.

Amy Grant performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Nov. 7, 2018. Cameron Pollack/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cameron Pollack/NPR

Amy Grant

Amy Grant maps her fabulous, four-decade career with some of her coziest and heartfelt Christmas songs, not to mention a delightful version of "Jingle Bells."

Trouble Funk performs a Tiny Desk concert on April 9, 2018. Eslah Attar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Eslah Attar/NPR

Trouble Funk

We squeezed 12 go-go musicians behind the Tiny Desk. Watch what ensued.

Tyler Childers performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 8, 2018 (Eslah Attar/NPR). Eslah Attar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Eslah Attar/NPR

Tyler Childers

Tyler Childers writes songs about hard lives and hard love with direct heart and a soulful Kentucky drawl.

The Nate Smith Band performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 14, 2017. (Christina Ascani/NPR) Christina Ascani/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Christina Ascani/NPR

Review

Tiny Desk

Nate Smith + KINFOLK

The drums take center stage at this Tiny Desk. Watch veteran jazz percussionist Nate Smith dazzle the NPR audience in a transfixing performance.

Jason Isbell performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 30, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Jason Isbell

The Alabama singer-songwriter and his band perform three songs from The Nashville Sound, but their set includes a few surprises, too.

ALA.NI performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 20, 2017. (Photo: Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR/NRR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR/NRR

ALA.NI

ALA.NI captures and conveys a reverent love of early-20th-century music, while injecting those sounds with charisma and charm well suited for any era.

Maggie Rogers performs a Tiny Desk concert at NPR headquarters. Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

Maggie Rogers

The rising pop star performs three of her best-known songs, including a sweet solo take on her career-making "Alaska."

Aldous Harding performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 6, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Aldous Harding

Intensity in songs often expresses itself as volume – a loud guitar, a scream, a piercing synth line. But in the case of Aldous Harding it's in the spaces, the pauses, and her unique delivery.

James Mercer of The Shins performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 19, 2017. (Liam James Doyle/NPR) Liam James Doyle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Liam James Doyle/NPR

The Shins

James Mercer, the emotional and creative heart of The Shins, gives a moving performance at the Tiny Desk, with two new songs and a classic from the band's 2003 album Chutes Too Narrow.

Back To Top